Monday, November 30, 2015

This Week....Beyond Money 11/23 -11/29

For me, a life beyond money is making choices so that you can live the best possible life, regardless of your income level. Obviously, you have to make a living, but there are many ways to improve your quality of life without increasing your income levels and correspondingly your expenses. This regular post will be some of the ways that we improve our quality of life beyond just trying to make more money.

* I harvested a large windowbox planter that was filled with parsley. I ended up with a huge pile of leaves.
* I revamped the window box soil with some coffee grounds and some fresh potting soil and planted lettuce. I used half a packet of Oak Leaf lettuce and all of the Speckled lettuce seed I'd saved from last year's garden.

* I have never made candy before, but I decided I wanted to try. I made toffee using a recipe I found in The Tightwad Gazette II.  I had a jar of almonds that was almost empty, so I chopped them all up. I placed them in the bottom of a greased baking dish. The toffee recipe was simply 3/4 cups packed brown sugar and 1/2 c butter, heated on the stovetop until it was darkened and just starting to smoke (recipe said about 7 minutes, but I cooked mine 8-9 before it smoked). I poured this mixture over the top of the almonds. The recipe said to immediately top with chocolate chips and cover with a cookie sheet so the chips would melt and could be smoothed with a knife. I didn't have chocolate chips but had unsweetened baking chocolate. So I shaved the baking chocolate and added some sugar and microwaved 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each go, until it was melted. I poured this over the top of the toffee. I should have run a knife through immediately to get nice even pieces, but instead just broke it into large pieces. This was incredible. I can't wait to try more variations.
* I got a 5.5 pound pork loin on manager's special for $5. I seared each edge in my cast iron skillet, then placed in the slow cooker, covered with water, and cooked on low for 5-6 hours. I strained off the cooking broth to use in soup making. The meat was falling apart as I took it out. We used it for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and tacos. I froze over half of it to use later.
* Butter was on sale 2 for $5 and you got back a coupon for $1 off a butter purchase if you bought two. I bought two and got my coupon. I immediately went back and bought another 2. So my cost was $2.25 a pound (this is the first time in months I've seen butter on sale for less than $3.99/lb).
* For the family Thanksgiving celebration, we brought bread (as we do every year). I found some take-and-bake loaves from the bakery for $1 each so I baked them at home to bring with. We brought basic Italian, roasted garlic and multi-grain.

Food Preservation:
* While I watched The Good Life on youtube, I picked off the leaves of parsley. I had enough to fill 4 trays on my dehydrator and set it for 100 degrees to dry. This will last us well into next year.

* Mum and my sister came over the day we bought Switch. We had a fun morning together. We'd planned on going out for lunch, but ended up bringing lunch home with us since we had him with us. Trucker was off work that day, so he joined us.
* We went on a couple coffee dates. One time the coffee was free. The other time we paid $3.18, but earned $1 off a beverage for next time.

* I've been enjoying my walks/runs with Switch. He is so curious about everything (especially since he's just now free from the shelter to explore a whole new world), so he gets me to stop and look at other things too.

* Trucker needed new tires on his car, badly. Our regular place had some promotions going on for the weekend, so I jumped on it. I got "better" tires rather than "good" tires for good handling in winter/rain. It cost $100 more to get "better" tires than the second cheapest "good" tires. However, the promotion was for $25 rebate on a set of 4 "good" tires or $75 rebate on a set of "good" tires, so that dropped the price to $50 more. Also, there was a promotion for $60 rebate if you used their credit card. I had the money, but applied for the credit card anyway so I could get the rebate. I will pay it off immediately and not pay interest. All of the rebates (which I filled out online to get quicker and that have already been approved) make it cheaper than the cheapest tires would have been without a sale. Also, it has a 65k mile warranty, so we are covered on tires for the life of this car (that will put it over 300k miles; which is about how long we plan to drive the Civic).
* I saved $500 on a treadmill by adopting a dog.
* I don't really know which section to put this in, so I'll do it here. We'd been looking for an affordable addition to the family for about a month (We didn't want to spend hundreds buying a dog; we'd rather spend the extra getting him all set up). A couple weeks ago someone at my job was selling white Husky pups for $600. We said we'd love to have a white Husky, but not for that price. Well, on Black Friday, the dog shelter had a special promotion because they were so full. It was $18 for the dog that was spayed/neutered, wormed, had its rabies shot, microchipped, tagged for the year, collar and leash. So, we go to the shelter to look at the dogs, and there's this beautiful, 2-year-old white Husky mix dog. He was so sad in the room, just standing still, staring at the wall. But once he got out to meet me, he was an explosion of energy. He is quite the social butterfly and loved exploring. He is keeping me sore from all the running he wants to do (and this is just a few days after his surgery!). I keep joking with Trucker that Switch is going to get me training for marathons soon! He's going to take some training and getting used to, but we are excited. My parents are helping us get him all set up, the shelter offers free training classes on Mondays, and there are vets that offer free first-visits for shelter dogs. While dogs are not cheap, we are looking for lots of ways to economize without neglecting. We are already looking out for frugal toy ideas made from scraps at home (say, a tug of war rope made from old socks) or purchased at a thrift store (We'll look not just for pet toys, but also for stuffed animals without beads/buttons that could be swallowed). My dad is building his crate and will help me put up the run this week.
* I wanted to get a hammock/cover for the backseat of the car to keep off (some of )the dog hair and slobber and keep the dog in place while we drive. It was $50 regular price, plus shipping and taxes. However, it was on sale for $25. I signed up for the mailing list and got a coupon for 20% off. I clicked through Swagbucks to shop so I earned 3 points per dollar (basically 3% cash back) and used my credit card to get 1% cash back.

Waste Reduction:
* I composted lots of random things.
* I saved the cooking water from the pork to use as soup base.

* I picked up one extra day at work. I would have worked more days, but we were closed for the holidays.
* Trucker's job was closed on the holiday, so he only worked 2 days.
* I packed a lunch each day I worked.

* We got new tires before winter so that we are prepared for the snow (at least, as much as one can ever be).

* Trucker has finished editing another two books and is working on releasing them this week. He is starting to make good royalties on his other books. I'm so proud!
* We are continuing to get more items up to the booth. I took down the autumn display and set up the Christmas displays in time for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales.

* Now that I have a dog, I can safely exercise more often (and, really, have to because a Husky is not a lazy dog, especially this one!)
* Drank water kefir regularly.

* Someone stole a high priced item from our booth. It was frustrating, but to be expected when in retail. We amped up our security measures for similar items.

* My parents have been fantastic in helping us get Switch home. We couldn't have done it without them.


  1. You look so happy with Switch. I love the fact you got him the way you did. Shelter and Rescue dogs need us all and he is so handsome! Yes dogs can be expensive but they do not have to be. Lovely! We have found a new home and place to settle. We have been house sitting in the meantime and that has saved us a bundle plus taken us to some amazing places :)

    1. I was glad to be able to take him home from the shelter. There are so many family/home-less dogs, it seems a shame to get a cute little puppy and forget about these sweet, neglected dogs. And I get to avoid the intense chewing stage.

      I'm so glad you found the new home! Your trip sounds amazing!


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